On Randy’s Selfie Trail…

February 9th, 2016

by Tars1


I live in Farmington NM, I recently began posting as Tars1 trying to help with the search for Randy. I was with Sacha and the crew in January and February. Since there was not a big search crew going out the other day and I wasn’t trying to beat a storm on the way home, I decided to check something out on my own.

I had noticed during the BOTG searches that there is still some disagreement about where the selfie was taken. It seems kind of moot at this point but I also wanted to verify it to myself and see exactly what Randy was seeing when he planned his boat trip.

I drove to Whiterock and checked from the overlook and it looked like I was heading in the right direction so I continued on  and found “Powerline Trail” on highway 4 between Whiterock and Bandalier. As I feared, it was blocked off with only an opening for hikers and mountain bikes. It is a 2 mile hike to the rim from the highway but it is actually a road that has been blocked so the hike is easy enough. It goes to the rim where the power lines cross the Rio Grande Gorge. From that point I followed the rim south toward the point and I came upon a well marked trail that went down around the face of the rocks on the point .

Selfie spot trail Selfie spot uphil Selfie spot view Selfie spot jogger

I didn’t have Randy’s selfie with me so it was hard to pinpoint just where he was standing but the slope several hundred feet below, the view of the Rio Grande and the canyon in the distance, and the bright rock face above me make it very obvious that this was the place. While I was taking pictures and glassing the view a jogger came down the trail with his two little dogs. We only chatted a moment as he was headed down to the river. He said the trail goes all the way down to the river and supposedly connects with the Blue Dot and Red dot trails below Whiterock. In a moment he was out of sight and less than two minutes later he was visible on the trail well below. It is that easy of a trail. He is almost in the exact center of the picture pointed  down the face of the hill. He was moving pretty good. He had parked at the same place I did, and even though the river is probably another mile or more I half expected the guy to get to the river and still pass me getting back to the highway.

Selfie coord

The coordinates I managed to mark on my gps are just up the hill from where the selfie was taken. N35 47.071 W106 13.407

I just wanted to make sure at least this part was verified for everyone.


65 thoughts on “On Randy’s Selfie Trail…

  1. Hey kevin theres two places ive been going to look around for Randy or maybe clues for him and that is one of the areas along with the other side of the river near where there are some ruff waters. Some arent to sure on what someone thought was a person whistling or blowing one to call for a dog or help i dont no if there was someone doing that but i would like to go where he might have first started out to see what he might have first saw. One of the fallowing days if i have money to do so im going out there. Ive lost to much on the search for him to give up now so im going to keep looking for now. Thanks for your post.

    • Not sure why my other comment ended up there, but, oh well.

      @ Scott,
      Although it has been searched well, I would also like to see the area where he started. I could see it from the overlook at Whiterock. Not sure if that amounts to anything.

      John is planning to search up the east bank on Sunday or Monday. I believe, as he does, that this is the most viable area to search. If it is Sunday I will be there for sure, if it is Monday, I can only say maybe. A few extra eyeballs would be helpful.

      That would leave Saturday to check out Old Buckman Road. Probably in the afternoon so I could save the hotel cost and head that way Saturday morning.

  2. Nice follow up Tars1.

    So now, putting my mind in gear, if a jogger ran by when you were in the area – one has to wonder how many other persons have been in the area that were not searchers and had no idea that Randy was missing?

  3. A very big long shot, but has anybody talked to Randy’s cell carrier to see if it has been turned on since the 5th? If he had it in his backpack and it got separated from him, a by passer could have found it without knowing Randy was missing and turned it on. Like I said a long shot, but at this point why not ask.

  4. On January 21 (https://dalneitzel.com/2016/01/21/fridays_plan/) these photos taken by Randy were posted:


    I posted there under a different name that the best line of sight from google earth ground view that may match Randy’s view of the bushes/features on the alluvial fan of Frijoles Canyon is a bearing of about 324° from about this location: 35.749, -106.2516. It was also noted by others that this location matched Randy’s hand-drawn line on his map across the canyon into Frijoles. I have tried to keep up with where the drones were engaged, but I’m not sure if this side drainage was investigated. Very steep. Apparently Randy spent considerable time exploring the east side, which is no doubt why so much effort has gone into searching this side. From the river level, Randy would have had to walk NORTH from his raft along the east side of the river bank to get to where this line of sight crosses the river. I am sure that NMSAR covered this terrain and that others also fanned out from the position of the raft. I am curious whether searches spoke with SAR individuals about what ground they covered and did not cover? I understand that dogs were used, but at least a week after Randy went missing. From the estimation of SAR staff, is it normal for a search dog to loose scent when a search is conducted several days after an individual goes missing, or does this fact point to the suspicion that Randy was not on land, but instead in the river?

    The efforts that have gone into this search are tremendous. If these thoughts posted here have already been hashed over (most likely) then my apologies for such a long post. I am glad that no searcher was harmed…. this is rough, dangerous terrain.

    Never go searching alone and always take a SPOT device (or one like it – http://www.cloudbasemayhem.com/delorme-vs-spot-when-your-life-depends-on-it/). Check in early and often and never rely on just your cell phone to make these planned contacts. Forrest has nicely covered these and other important points many times and in the post on Fundamental Guidelines.

    • I personally have paid very little attention to all the speculation of what Randy’s map might or might not have indicated regarding his current location. It is pointless. There are very few ways back to his car. He could go down stream or to the west bank but those start with a huge mark against them in that the raft was on the east side, and the most probable upstream west bank route (Ancho Canyon) has been searched several times now. Ditto down the river. The area from raft to rim has been fairly thoroughly searched. I have searched the drainage you asked about at 35.749, -106.2516 3 times now but I haven’t gone into the part closer to the river where it steepens up. The one piece of terrain that has not been searched by anyone is the east bank immediately above the boat and up to the top of the Ancho rapid. He is quite likely to be here as it is very dangerous terrain and not far from the raft, The rest of the east bank up to Beckman Crossing was searched by SAR although more searching wouldn’t be wasted.

  5. wholt824, I totally agree with your thinking that Randy was treading North on the East side of the Rio, if he was a 50 ish year old man and in average shape he may have gotten a lot closer to Buckman parking than anyone would believe, after all he may have though as long as I can stick to the river and if my waders are watertight I can make it by dawn on the 6th, so unless he exited the river to gain a high vantage on the east mesa which he may have done the safest possible route for him was the east side of the river, if he walked all night he would be at his car in the am on the 6th of January, unless he got exhausted, wet and his waders were leaking, funny how burning calories at a steady rate will stave off Hypothermia until you are wet and exhausted and/or injured and try to sleep at near zero..

    I would look just south of Buckman along the river or on high places east or easy walk to the Rim (Mesa).

    Perhaps I will come south from Buckman while the weather is warm

    Who would join me? I live in Albuq, Tijeras Canyon area

    Tom T

  6. I will wear my own neoprene waders and felt bottom boots with a life vest because I have slipped on the slick rocks and river bottoms of almost every fishing hole on every river in Northern NM.

    Thursday or Friday would be best since forecast is warm for those days and sunshine will illuminate our way, unlike the dark of night Randy probably faced.

    If you are familiar with Buckman and 599 loop my plan is to be there early in the am and out by 3 pm, we should be able to cover a few miles south.

    I do not plan on looking up the Rim or the Canyons down unless there are good signs Randy may have left the Rio to a high vantage/easy walk in search of his parked car.

    I do not plan to do this alone, but you will not want to try it without Neoprene and felt bottom boots or boots with indoor outdoor carpet, traction is the most important thing and of course a life vest, the ability to create a fire and common sense…

    Tom T

    • Tom,
      I believe Jeff Burch did a 4 mile stretch down from Old Buckman Rd. on the east side. While more eyes on the area probably wouldn’t hurt, you might want to contact him about his search. Hope I have the right name, I couldn’t find the post to link to. I don’t think getting in the water is necessary until closer to Frijoles and even there, dry is preferable.

    • Tom T, I’m in..will meet you at the end of Buckman Road Friday early morning. I will hike the shoreline while you wade down the Rio. I will try to get Roger Radcrad or another hiker to hike with me. I should be able to keep sight of you most of the time. I love this idea and have wanted to do this for several weeks. I will have all day with no time constraint…

      I believe Jeff Burch and his dog Titan have done this, but let’s do it one more time…plus Jeff was on land, I think, not in the river.

      Kevin, Anthony, anyone else, are you interested? Reply here and I will get in touch. cynthia

      • I wished I lived nearby. I would be out there with you guys everyday! Good luck and be careful.

      • Weekends are all I’ve got right now.
        Was working with John on a search up the east bank from the boat, but might be another week so I will probably try to get some things caught up at home this weekend and shoot for going down the weekend of the 20th.

      • I should be able to go out there on friday. I just got the post on here after i left mine. If a person was to go in along the power line road to the rim its not bad of a road to go in on its alot better than the road weve been going in on to the raft. That road will get people in more south of buckman and it also looks like it would be easy to get to the river from there because theres some roads that go further down to the river but i dont know what those roads look like. The roads in that area should be more the most part dry because there open to the sun light. I should be able to get up there on friday unless im unable to finish what im doing for a nieghbor to make some money to go on the search for randy. If you want you can call me or txt me on what you think.

  7. I think you may have something there. Randy seemed to have had a plan so it does make some sense that he would know of the route you have mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Tom, reading your comments. Please clarify for me, are you planning to wade in the Rio? Walking/wading south from Buckman on East side? Is that safe? Do you know the river well? Sorry if I am misunderstanding.

  9. I am curious why you chose 600 X 338 resolution for your photos. Thank you for your research and you have my sincere respect for getting out there to help Randy.

  10. Cynthia, I will see you Friday at 7:00 am just west of the Buckman and 599, or if you prefer at Buckman put (parkin by Rio) at 7:00 am.

    So you can recognize me I am driving a 2008 Toyota Tacoma crew cab 4X4 Silver color PU

    Tom T

  11. To Anne and others my intention is to stick as close to the east shoreline as possible, I have waded many rivers and I know what to expect and what not to do. I have been dumped in Kayaks and Rafts all up and down the Rock Garden in the Gorge above Pilar and survived without neoprene waders bottoms.

    The key is never try to swim upstream, just go with the flow til a calmer current is found and you can exit, until then you should face downstream with your feet in front so you can kick off the obstacles like rocks and down trees etc. A good life vest is a must.

    Tom T

    • Tom, what is your backup plan if things dont go as planned? Worst case scenario, how will it be handled?

      • Rose, my aim and plan are simple, I will use common sense and experience, and try not to go where old men can get into trouble. Glad I am not 80..

        My belief is that Randy got most of the way back to his vehicle, but may have decided to exit the river and find a cave or build a lean to shelter to stay warm, but without a fire and perhaps he was wearing wet clothes as well, those are a few things that accelerate hypothermia, even a slight injury could cause him big problems.

        Tom T

        • Im sorry Tom, im a worry wort and just want to make sure people have a plan for the unexpected. Hoping for the best.

  12. I am studying google earth from the place where the raft was found and North, Eastside of Rio, being there is much more rugged and tumble than this research but what makes the most sense I will search out. see ya manana.

    Tom T

    • Do you follow Facebook – Search for Randy Bilyeu ? Pls see several videos by Alex Viech, posted Monday, approx 3pm. Many of Rio and Ancho Rapids. Just an FYI , info to add to the mix for your safety. Alex did a lot of hiking on West. Good photos and video. Apologies if you all have this info.

      • Anne I am surprised that the self taken on the 24th was thought to be near Whiterock. I posted this on the 19 Jan http://www.chasechat.com/showthread.php?tid=3561&pid=88427&highlight=wolf#pid88427

        It is an exact match from GE just above the raft site. There are two images I presented, one of Randy’s and the other from the GE perspective. It makes perfect sense that this is the match as it is above where the raft was found. Notice now it matches the Frijoles delta.

        • Wolf,
          This is the confusion I was trying to clear up. I took the pics above from the west rim above Ancho canyon between Whiterock and Bandolier.
          Put this pic next to pic #3 from this post above.

          The rocks from pic #2 above are reflected in the sunglasses on Randy’s head.

          This is on Powerline Trail, which is on DOE land and runs from Hwy 4 all the way to the river. But it is on the west side.

          • Tars I think you both might be right. I don’t think there is any confusion about where the photo,s were taken. The selfie on the west side and the others that Wolf is talking about are on the east side. Take a closer look at the tree line on the left. Matches up in my opinion.
            I think the dates on the photo,s might have been mixed up.

          • @onuat,
            You are correct. There is no question two of Randy’s photo’s were from the east rim showing the mouth of the Frijoles from two different canyons on the east side. I believe this led people to assume that the selfie was also taken from the east side when it was actually taken on the west. There were also a couple pictures from Randy looking east, down Frijoles from Bandolier that I believe some people are also assuming came from the east side.

            Like I said in the post, the point is probably moot. But it does show that Randy put a great deal of effort into scouting both sides of the Rio Grande and that adds up to a great deal of planning before his boat trip.

        • You may be right. Do you visit Linda Bilyeu’s Facebook page that I mentioned above? So much search info. compiled there. Many people have hiked, used drones, etc. The hubpages site too.

        • Wolf I like your match up..The GE photo of where you think the photo,s were taken matches up with what I think I saw in one of the drone video,s. It still bugs me…. 🙂

  13. Tom, Roger Radcrad is going with us…he will walk on land/shoreline with me. I’m meeting him at Buckman Exit on Frontage road off 599 westside at 7:00am. see you then. cynthia

    • Cynthia, you already have the gold. It’s in your heart. 🙂

      You and many others. Thanks for all you do. 🙂

  14. Are these videos by Alex on U tube or Vimeo? I am searching for then on facebook, but all I find are people with simailar or same name as Randy, could you give me a link, not associated with facebook, Anne…??

  15. Cynthia, Radcrad et al, I am postin my cell; five 0 five- two three five-1271 so call or text me about 15 minutes before 7 tomorrow…

    Tom T

  16. Sorry I do not see that Alex has posted his research at any other location. If you are able, go to Facebook. At top of page in search area type this exact title
    Search for Randy Bilyeu
    Linda Bilyeu runs the page. She will grant you access.

  17. This a map of some of the searches which have been conducted. It was posted today by “JulieLp12”, who herself has conducted many of the searches depicted.

    https://flic.kr/p/DS1AJ5 …click on map to enlarge. hope she doesn’t mind me posting it here.

    Everyone searching, good luck and be safe.

  18. Hey Cynthia, Robert and Pepper the lovable K9, Roger (RadC), and Scott Richards, thanks for the great effort and big thanks for talking me into staying on shore, after I saw the flow which I estimate to be at 3800 cfs to over 4000 cfs which must be 4 or 5 times more than Randy was floating on you gave me good advice. Wisdom is heard best when you face the dragon, and the Rio is no place for the Meek even now.

    What I learned was the treasure hunters are a tough and dedicated bunch of explorers, not unlike my experiences in the Amphib Navy and when I was an Explorer Scout in the 60’s, Kudos to you fine people. If I ever needed someone to watch my back, you are the first line defense.

    Tom T

      • To others who read this, please stay out of the river. Colorado’s current snowfall for the season is well over 100% and we’ve been hitting warm temperatures and will do so through next week. The mountain snows will melt and create the higher water stages.

    • Really? An article by someone who completely misses the point of the hunt for Fenn’s treasure?

      How ’bout this?:
      “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” John Galt


      There is only this one life. Make it the best you can. I can do it my way.

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